Returning to Work While Grieving: How to Navigate Your New Normal

by | Emotional Wellbeing

Dealing with grief is painful and hurtful. If you’ve recently lost a spouse or a loved one, then your suffering is likely still fresh. Having to go back to work on top of going through the stages of mourning is never going to be easy. While handling your sorrow in the workplace can be challenging, it will pave the way to your recovery. In a way, the distractions and normalcy of work can help you heal and get back to your routine.

And it is important to remember – you are never alone, even when you’re at work. Your co-workers and management will always be with you, helping you navigate this new journey. A robust support system will allow you to cope even on the most challenging days. If you’re looking for more ways to take charge of your life – mentally, physically, and spiritually – check out A Life Well Balanced. Our articles on coping strategies for bettering emotional well-being are sure to strike a chord with you. Let’s dive into what to expect and manage when returning to work after a loss.

Be Honest

Grief differs from person to person. The key to resuming work after the death of a loved one is communication. Talk to your employer about your concerns and how they might affect your work. If you feel you need a little more time to process your loss, don’t be afraid to ask for it. Thrive Global reports that taking time off benefits your clarity, focus, and mental balance. If you find your work suffering, be honest about the difficulties you’re facing. It will get better with time, and you’ll find yourself improving daily.

Set Up a Schedule and Plan of Action

While it’s impossible to set up a schedule to mourn, carving out a little time during the day to grieve can be crucial. Allow yourself to feel your feelings, even if it’s just for a couple of minutes a day. Psychologists warn against avoidance as a coping strategy. Setting aside intentional time to grieve will allow you to mourn your loss properly, rather than busying yourself up with tasks.

Also, be sure to have a plan of action. Prepare yourself for co-workers coming up to you with statements of sympathy or questions. They might want to know what happened and if you’re doing okay. This can come as a shock, but prepare yourself with responses to avoid any
awkwardness. Think up your answers in advance, so you’re not left fumbling if confronted.

Understand Your Benefits

Many workplaces offer a variety of benefits for those dealing with personal issues. Your company may offer free counseling and therapy or paid time off. According to a Society of HR Management report, 60% of private-sector workers get paid time off. The number of days off depends on how close the deceased was to you. The main takeaway here is to always check with HR what benefits are available to you. You never know how it might come in handy.

Pursue Your Own Interests

An essential step in healing is to develop your own routine and unique way of life after the loss. Some find themselves taking up art classes, going on hikes, or spending time meditating. Yet others turn to more work, as performing productive tasks allows them to regain a sense of

This may be a good time for some to start their own business. Entrepreneurship is a wonderful and fulfilling distraction, and creating something new can be a healing path to recovery. If you decide to start your own business, consider creating an LLC. You’ll avoid double taxation and benefit from its flexible structure and uncomplicated procedures. Be sure to check out the regulations in your state, as they do differ by region.

Our last tip? Take care of yourself! Meeting the demands and expectations of work or entrepreneurship can be challenging at the best of times but can feel overwhelming when grieving. Accept your co-workers and management’s support during this difficult time. You will slowly but surely work through your grief healthily and productively.


Lindsey Victoria

Lindsey Victoria

Lindsey is the author of A Life Well-Balanced, a lifestyle blog dedicated to helping people live a more balanced life – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.


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